Since the Memphis Grizzlies’ 2013 Western Conference exit, analysts and fans alike said they should become more modern.
The Grizzlies need more shooters.
They need to play smaller.
They need to play faster.
The Grizzlies need to shoot more 3’s.
And for years, the Memphis Grizzlies have rejected the status quo. While everyone else zigged, they zagged. Their opponents played faster, and the Grizzlies trapped them in an abyss of 92-88 games. Teams tried to play small, but they were on the receiving end of a schoolyard beatdown from the grizzled brutes known as Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
It was simply a glorious era in Grizzlies basketball, but age has worn down — and ultimately ruined the “Grit ‘n’ Grind” era. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen saw the door out of Memphis, and now the Grizzlies are looking to find their niche.
They looked great at the beginning of the season, looking the part of a good modern NBA team. However, Mike Conley’s injury was truly the Achilles’ heel of the Grizzlies’ season and sent them in a downward spiral. So long were the days of beating down opponents and being a team no one wanted to face. Teams wanted to face them, as they knew it was probably an easy dub.
Now, as the Grizzlies are looking for a direction, it might be time to listen to the analysts suggesting they trend towards the modern NBA.
I’m not talking about playing smaller or faster. I’m not talking about shooting more 3-pointers.
They need more versatility.
Position-less basketball has taken over the NBA. Centers have become near obsolete, as Al Horford was really the only big man that thrived in the postseason. Teams want players that could play multiple positions — wings that could play the 4, forwards that could man the 5 spot.
The Grizzlies lack this versatility. Of the 12 players under contract this season, only 5 of them could legitimate play multiple positions: Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, Wayne Selden Jr., Andrew Harrison, and MarShon Brooks. (Yeah guys, JARELL MARTIN IS NOT A SMALL FORWARD!!!!).
This isn’t a good look. Wayne Selden and Chandler Parsons haven’t been healthy in Memphis, and MarShon Brooks was out of the league for 4 years prior to his Memphis run.
What’s worse? All the team’s big men could only stick to their position. Marc Gasol would get eaten alive defensively at the 4. Deyonta Davis doesn't have the shooting to space the floor, and Ivan Rabb needs to add more muscle to play the 5. JaMychal Green and Jarell Martin can’t protect the rim well enough to play the 5.
How do you expect this team to compete when their big men would become casualties of position-less basketball — especially when they don't have many multi-positional players?
The Grizzlies need to dedicate this summer to finding players that could thrive in a position-less system, and they have the perfect opportunity to do so.
A top-five pick could help net you a “position-less” player to help usher you into a new era — Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr., or Michael Porter Jr.
A high second-round pick could get you a “Dillon Brooks” type steal — De’Anthony Melton, Rawle Alkins, or Josh Okogie, to name a few.
The full mid-level exception (a little over $8,000,000) could become a starter on the wing that could help the Grizzlies get back to the promise land — Tyreke Evans, Will Barton, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, maybe.
Let’s get versatile. It may be their only hope to return to prominence.